October 20th, 2008

High altitude balloons, air tanks, & radar

Basically the story is set in a world with roughly present day technology. There is an airbase located on an island not too far away from the coast, while the coast itself is mostly unclaimed for various reasons. My group wants to have a look at this airbase, but getting past the radars would be difficult. They could send airplanes, but they'd rather be more subtle.

The solution they pick is to use a manned high-altitude balloon which will pass over the island at roughly 80 - 100 000 feet. The reason for a manned balloon is that they want to make sure that the cameras and other instruments are aimed at the most interesting spots.

My questions are as follows:

1. Given that they want to hide from radar can you make the balloon basket from entirely composite materials? Including the ballooners air tank? Could such a balloon be more or less undetectable?

2. Assuming that they release the balloons from a freighter, and that the winds are reasonably stable, can they ensure that the balloons get within 15 miles of the island? How about 30 miles?

3. How good are the pictures likely to be, assuming of course that they have access to military grade cameras, and other passive sensor equipment (with the caveat that it has to fit aboard the balloon)?

BDSM research

I am hoping that there are people here who are better at finding credible sources than I am (because I'm really horrible at it)

I am doing research into the BDSM community and how views about it have changed both within (the kink community) and without (the mainstream community) since the 80's.

I have searched Jstor to no avail and am just as bad at libraries as I am at the internet.

any help with links to sites that might have cite-able sources would be great.

***EDIT: Thanks everyone for all your help ^_^ I have what I need and the project was OK'd by my professor ^_^ thanks again for all your help

Question on clerical headgear

Specifically, a question on Jesuits' hats a la these caricatures by Honore Daumier: http://www.daumier-register.org/werklist.php?themen=603&esok_themasrch=on

Were these called birettas? All my research indicates a biretta is a three-cornered hat, not one with a loooong upturned brim such as one tends to see in cartoons of Jesuits from the era. Was it usual for Jesuits, at least in the nineteenth century, to wear this particular kind of headgear, or does the image of them as doing so come out of a stock caricature (Daumier, Wilhelm Busch, etc.)?

Also, what sort of headgear would they wear into the twentieth century--would, for instance, an English Jesuit at an official occasion at Stonyhurst College wear a Flexible Flyer on his head (pardon my irreverence--I think the long hats are sort of cool, but that's the image that comes to mind), or more of a regular-issue biretta?

Thanks in advance; this might be a toughie.